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West Bengal Election 2021 | Stray violence, attack on candidates mark last phase of Bengal polls

Voting is being held in 11,860 polling stations of 35 constituencies -- 11 each in Murshidabad and Birbhum, six in Malda and seven in north Kolkata.

April 29, 2021 / 02:08 PM IST
Long queues of voters are seen outside a polling booth in Banpara area of Purba Bardhaman district, West Bengal. (Image: ANI)

Long queues of voters are seen outside a polling booth in Banpara area of Purba Bardhaman district, West Bengal. (Image: ANI)

Stray incidents of violence were reported on Thursday from several areas where voting is underway for the eighth and last phase of assembly elections in Bengal, but the overall polling process has been peaceful with 37.80 per cent turnout till 11 am, EC officials said.

Voting is being held in 11,860 polling stations of 35 constituencies -- 11 each in Murshidabad and Birbhum, six in Malda and seven in north Kolkata.

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One person was killed and two others injured as a car hit them in Murshidabad district, hours before the polling exercise began, triggering tension in the area, a police officer said earlier in the day.

The CPI(M) alleged that its member Kader Mondal (42) was killed, and two others -- Asim Al Mamoon (43) and Lal Chand Mondal (42) -- sustained injuries after TMC candidate Jafikul Islam ran his car over them.

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Islam, the TMC''s Domkal seat candidate, rubbished the allegation, claiming that he was nowhere near the site of the incident.

Chief Election Officer (CEO) Aariz Aftab has sought a report from district authorities in the matter.

In the city''s Beliaghata area, clashes broke out between two groups of people, following which the police resorted to mild lathicharge to disperse them.

Two persons, who identified themselves as BJP activists, alleged that they were roughed up by TMC workers during the melee.

In Jorasanko constituency of central Kolkata, crude bombs were hurled outside Mahajati Sadan, the police said.

BJP candidate Meena Devi Purohit alleged that the bombs were thrown at her vehicle while she was touring different polling booths.

A huge police contingent was rushed to the spot to control the situation.

In Nanoor constituency of violence-prone Birbhum district, BJP candidate Tarakeshwar Saha reportedy suffered injuries after his vehicle was ransacked.

Saha accused TMC cadres of attacking him, but the allegation was dubbed as "baseless" by local leaders of the state''s ruling party.

In Maniktala constituency of Kolkata, BJP candidate Kalyan Choubey was gheraoed by a group of people during his visit to the polling booths.

Choubey said "TMC-backed anti-socials" tried to create disturbances "so that they could rig the polls".

TMC candidate Sadhan Pande, however, alleged agents of his party were beaten up by the BJP cadres in several booths.

Long queues were seen outside most polling booths since early morning, raising concern over the spread of COVID-19, even as the Election Commission gave assurance that all precautionary measures are in place.

Bengal registered its highest single-day spike of 17,207 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, while 77 more people succumbed to the disease.

Over 84.77 lakh voters will decide the political fate of 283 candidates in this phase.

Security measures have been heightened in view of the violence in the previous phases, an EC official said.

The poll panel has deployed 641 companies of central forces in the final phase to ensure fair voting, he said.

It has also placed TMC''s Birbhum district president Anubrata Mondal under strict surveillance till 7 am on Friday, as the CEO received "several complaints against him".

The voting exercise will continue till 6.30 pm.

The eight-phase elections to the 294-member West Bengal assembly began on March 27. Votes will be counted on Sunday.
PTI
first published: Apr 29, 2021 01:57 pm

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